Intern Chats with University of Arizona Graduate Lauren Ponsi

Summer 2017 was a blast- what an incredible few months. We wish we could rewind and do it all again! We had a pretty awesome bunch of Stinters and it’s with great pleasure to introduce Lauren Ponsi. Lauren interned at Pure Results Bootcamp, where she got lots of first-hand experience in marketing and PR. Lauren provided us with a little insight into her internship experience in Dublin.

Let’s hear from Lauren…
Tell us why you chose to do an internship?

I wanted to gain real world experience in the degree field. 

 

…and why Ireland?

The country is beautiful, the people are so friendly and the CRAIC (see here for urban dictionary explanation!).

 

The best thing about Dublin is…

You can find something to do any night of the week (Dicey’s €2 pints are also not bad!)

 

(Lauren with Stinter Madison Wallace, enjoying a craft beer)

If you could give future intern abroad participants one piece of advice, what would that be?

Don’t be afraid to venture on your own, sounds scary, but you find the best treasures when it’s just you and yourself. 

 

The weirdest thing about Dublin is…

When you’re crossing the street, cars will actually speed up! Like “Hey mate, I would have crossed in plenty of time but you had to speed up and now I broke a sweat from the mild jog!’. 

 

And of course, the most important question of all- tea of choice (Barrys or Lyons)?

BARRYS!! 

 

Lauren recently graduated and will be returning to Ireland (and Stint) as a gap year participant in 2018. Catch Lauren over on Instagram (@laurenmarie), where you can follow both her internship and gap year journies!

 

As summer ends, we are busy planning for 2018 and with that, we want to let you know we just launched our 2018 Early Bird discount. Apply to our Stint Internship Program before October 15th, 2017 and get 10% off your program fee. If you’re ready to apply, great- click here.

Gap Chat #3

Gap Chats #3

We are proud to introduce Khaki Bowman, who is our Gap Chats #3 feature. Khaki is a fashion queen (or kween…whatever you prefer!), super blogger, and all round great Gap Year Stinter. Take it from here Khaki…

 

Tell us a little about why you chose to take a gap year?

I’m not sure exactly when it was that I caught the “travel bug”. It had to have been somewhere between my junior year of college and starting my job in the real world after graduation. I knew I wanted to move abroad for awhile I just wasn’t quite sure how I could or where to even start. I just began to research (a lot) and figure out what my possibilities were. The more I researched, the more I knew I had to make it happen. To me, it was a “now or never” kind of thing, and I wasn’t going to let the opportunity slip away. 

…..And why Ireland?

Ireland had been at the top of my bucket list for awhile. I had a friend who had previously moved to Ireland on the Working Holiday Visa. She fully recommended it and gave me all the insight. I weighed out many pros and cons (against other European countries). Ireland just seemed like the perfect fit for me. Cheap and accessible travel, English speaking, GUINNESS, the greenery, safeness, the pubs, outdoor attractions, etc.

 

Gap Chats #3
(Khaki around Ireland)
The weirdest thing about Dublin is….?

The slang. Irish folks say things like “good craic” or “what’s the craic,” meaning it was good fun, or what’s happening. “Your man” referring to just any person, not actually ‘your’ man. “That’s gas” meaning that’s amusing. These are just a few of the frequent sayings, there are plenty more that I’m learning daily. They are catchy though, I have started to catch myself using them here and there.

Has it lived up to your expectations so far?
I made it an obligation to myself before moving to Ireland to keep an open mind and refrain from having certain expectations. I didn’t want to make up extravagant scenarios in my head to be let down if things turned out differently. I’d say it has worked favorably with me as I have absolutely enjoyed living in Dublin, exploring new places and meeting new people.
Explain what kind of work you’ve been doing?

I am currently doing temp work. I work with a few temp agencies here in Dublin. They set me up with office jobs (mostly reception) ranging from days to months depending on what the company needs. I chose to do this as opposed to say working in a pub or coffee shop because of the flexibility. I can accept a job and work for a couple weeks and then go travel for a while before accepting another position. Plus, I get nights and weekends off to run around town with fellow Stinters.

Have you any advice to people considering a gap year?
DO IT. If you have the slightest urge to move abroad, I say do it. It’s not an opportunity that will always be available and you have the rest of you life to start a career. The people you will meet and the places you go while living abroad is such an incredible learning experience that you just can’t get otherwise. 
Where to find Khaki-
If there is one thing (after booking your Gap Year that is) you should do after reading this is head over to Khaki’s Instagram (@khakibowman) and personal blog for all things travel and fashion related. Khaki has been traveling Italy recently and her pictures of Sorrento, in particular, are unreal.

Gap Chats #2

Gap Chat #2 is with Kyle Kredt: a super cool gal currently living like a local in Dublin. Kyle mixes her weeks with adventure and working. In any way, let’s hear from Kyle…

Tell us a little about why you chose to take a gap year?

During my junior year of college, I had a classmate that was a Stinter intern. I remember sitting in class absolutely fascinated that she had gone abroad and worked in Ireland for a few weeks. I wanted to study abroad while in school and was never able to make it happen, but I decided the day I heard about my classmate’s experience that I was going to try out a gap year after I graduated college.

….and why Ireland?

I didn’t look into any other gap year programs because I knew I wanted to do it in Europe. Ireland seemed like a great introduction to a continent I had never visited.

Gap Chats #2 (Photo Credit: Ayla Graney)
(Dublin: close enough to Europe, yet far enough away to feel like a tiny continent in itself!)
The weirdest thing about Dublin is…?

For me, the weirdest thing about Dublin is the weather. It can change quickly throughout the day, sometimes making it hard to know how to dress appropriately.

Has it lived up to your expectations so far?

Being in Ireland and living in Dublin has been everything I thought it would be and more. The people are lovely, the culture is amazing, and there is so much history.

Explain what kind of work you are doing?

Right now I am doing a lot of reception/admin work. Since one of the main reasons I took a gap year was to travel, a 9-5 office schedule is really nice for weekend trips.

Have you any advice to people who are considering a gap year?

My advice would be to do your research. Whether you’re considering an internship or a gap year, you’ll want to be prepared.

 

So far Kyle has visited England, France, Switzerland, Germany and various parts of Ireland. I would highly recommend heading over to Kyle’s Instagram (@kylej0rdan). Her Insta-feed contains epic travel pictures, glorious food and lots of humor!

Gap Chats #4

Gap Chats #4

Gap Chats #4 brings Hayley Sawyer, a very talented creative who snaps some pretty amazing pictures of her travels. Without further delay, let’s hear from Hayley…

 

Tell us a little about why you chose to take a gap year?

I chose to take a gap year because I wanted to make the most of my time being young enough to really do big things. I’ve always had a big urge and curiosity about living abroad and I didn’t want to regret not taking the chance now rather than later!

 

….and why Ireland?

Oh man. So I traveled to Ireland a few times when I was younger with a ton of my family, so I’ve always had some of the best memories from here. Plus, the people all over are some of the kindest, most genuine people and that just makes adjusting to life away from home easier. And could you blame them with the dead gorgeous scenery all around them? I think I maybe take 500 pictures a day and when I don’t have an activity or trip planned, I spend my time looking back on old photos just to get that feeling again. That really made the decision easy.

 

Gap Chats #4
 (Some of Hayley’s amazing pictures of her travels)
The weirdest thing about Dublin is…?

The weirdest thing about Dublin is all of the lingo you have to work out. There are different ways of saying taxi, being “gas” is a great thing, and craic (pronounced “crack”) is a really really good thing!

 

Has it lived up to your expectations so far?

Dublin, and my experience thus far, has far exceeded my expectations in a lot of ways. But this experience has had so many surprises that took me to places I didn’t expect, and I really value that as well.

 

Explain what kind of work you are doing?

I’ve signed up with two temporary work agencies, and I’ve had some nice success with that. I’ve spent 3 months working with a dairy company taking orders from milkmen 8 hours a day (how Irish, I couldn’t turn that job down!), and then I’ve worked with investment banks and business law firms and even a media company. The variety is pretty valuable because every position has taught me so many new skills.

 

Have you any advice to people who are considering a gap year?

Take a big leap! It will be pretty scary faced with the possibility of moving to a new country, but the fear will subside and you’ll start to learn so I have about yourself. How you work, how you thrive, and also how to take care of yourself. You meet so many new people and places that you wouldn’t have at home, and taking a gap year is the best way to do all of this. It’s important to throw all expectations out the window because better things will always come along, and take in even the smallest of moments. Be patient, really really enjoy yourself, and things will always work out for the best!

 

Hayley has traveled around Europe and Ireland, taking many beautiful snaps along the way. She recently took a trip over to Morrocco and Italy which totally gives Gap Year FOMO! If you want to more information on our Gap Year program, you can always chat with us!

Stinter Ayla Graney

Gap Chats #1

Let us introduce our Gap Chats series. Over the next few weeks, we will feature some of our Gap Year Stinters, share their stories, what they are working at and hear the advice they have to offer. Although each Stinter story is completely unique, you will see that everyone shares similarities in reasons or ambitions to do a gap year. Why did we decide to create blog posts around their stories? Well, because they are pretty awesome and we also get a lot of questions from prospective Stinters about connecting with others that are like them! So here goes…

Gap Chat #1 is with Stinter Ayla Graney. Over to you Ayla!

Tell us a little about why you chose to take a gap year?
As my college graduation date quickly approached, I knew I was not ready to settle down and find a steady job. Since studying abroad in New Zealand, my desire to travel and explore different cultures has become an important (and arguably vital) part of my life, so it seemed natural to take a gap year.

 

….and why Ireland?

There are many reasons why I chose to take a gap year in Ireland, but the two main deciding factors were my family’s Irish history and the unique visa that Ireland offers for U.S. citizens who have recently graduated from college. Other reasons include the unreal natural landscapes (which satisfies my need to sit in trees), the ever-flowing Guinness (which makes my stomach full and my heart happy), and how close I am to an airport (which fuels the travel photographer in me).

 

Gap Chats #1 (Photo Credit: Ayla Graney)
(Some of Ayla’s crazy amazing travel photographs!)

 

The weirdest thing about Dublin is…?

I love Dublin – its canals, its proximity to other coastal towns, its diversity… the list goes on for ages. I think that the weirdest aspect (but also something I have come to enjoy) is how it is not a picturesque Irish city. It, of course, has areas that have the stereotypical Irish vibe, but Dublin is different from other Irish cities, like Galway. It’s perfect the way it is, and it allows me to better appreciate the times that I am able to explore outside the city center.

 

Has it lived up to your expectations so far?

When I moved to Dublin, I didn’t really have any expectations – I think that’s a primary factor to true happiness. That said, Dublin feels like home, and I think that is the best way to describe how comfortable and welcoming it is to live in this city.

 

Explain what kind of work you are doing?

Currently, I accept temporary jobs when I can get them, but most days I go to a cafe (or curl up on the couch in my pajamas) and work on graphic design and photography freelance work that U.S. clients have assigned me. While this style of work is not always reliable, it allows me to live and travel a bit more freely. Temporary positions are also incredibly flexible, and working with different Irish agencies has been a great addition to my freelance gigs.

 

Have you any advice to people who are considering a gap year?

My biggest advice to individuals who are considering a gap year is to be entirely open and take the time to get to know yourself. I started this gap year thinking that I knew myself quite well, but after taking multiple solo trips and spending many days alone, I have become even more independent and self-aware than I was previously. Being comfortable with yourself also makes traveling with others a lot easier, as it gives you the independence to go off on your own if what you want to do doesn’t align with the group mentality. Traveling with friends is an incredibly fun experience, but having an understanding of your own mind makes everyone happier – trust me 🙂

 

Ayla is currently exploring Ireland and Europe whilst freelancing. We highly recommend following Ayla’s gap year journey on Instagram (@aylagraney), her pictures will give you all the wanderlust feels!

Anis-Blog Main Pic

Irish Adventures: A Cultural Insight

Hi, my name is Anis Raihana. I’m from Malaysia. In January 2017 I became a Stinter and started an internship within the area of chemical engineering in Dublin. This blog outlines the cultural differences between my home country and Ireland. Whilst I also talk about how unique Ireland truly is. I hope you enjoy!

Moving to Ireland for an 11-week internship experience with lots of adventures around the island was the best decision I have ever made, despite feeling heavy hearted to leave my loved ones behind. I had tons of fun and gained heaps of knowledge. I knew I did not regret taking such a big decision almost a year ago when I rejected a local internship offer. Of course, this involved a rollercoaster of emotions and patience but most importantly, I had the opportunity to observe and learn about a new culture.

Due to the fact that it has a long history on monastery sites during the golden age, Ireland is known as the ‘land of saints and scholars.’ The Irish culture is unique in its own way.

 (Some of the Stinters I met) 

Irish Adventures: A Cultural Insight

 

The Irish Humor!

One of the first things I realized about the difference between Malaysian and Irish culture is wittiness and humor. Malaysians typically joke around with their closed ones, unlike Irish people who can joke around with strangers without anyone feeling offended. One day, I was buying a card from Spar at the place where I worked at, the cashier played around with me by not letting me take out my bank notes from my purse. I did not realize it was a joke until I looked at him and he was giggling. My top employer too, teased me when he thought I sailed from Indonesia instead of Malaysia.

Next, Irish or Dubliners, in general, prefer to take public transport rather than driving unless they live far from the city center. On the other hand, Malaysians prefer driving our own cars with public transport being the second option, regardless where we live.

(Walking means you can explore castles!!)

Irish Adventures: A Cultural Insight

Phrases

Malaysians would say ‘okay’ or ‘alright’ after they understand a topic, or ‘Everything will be alright,’ Irish would say ‘grand’ or ‘Everything will be grand.’

Malaysians address customers as ‘sir’ or ‘madam’, Irish addresses their customers as ‘love’ or ‘darling.’

In addition, Irish people are full of praises. Even when it is a small achievement, they would say, ‘Excellent!’ ‘Brilliant work!’ ‘Perfect!’ Unlike Malaysians, we only praise one another when it is a big achievement.

Malaysians say ‘thank you’ or ‘terima kasih’ in Bahasa – a lot but not ‘sorry’ and ‘please’ which are being said for almost everything and all the time in the Emerald Isle.

Your Health is Your Wealth in Ireland

In Malaysia, we work like there is no tomorrow or in other words, ‘work comes first before health’. In Ireland, it is the other way round, ‘health comes first before work.’ Even if it means you have a very light fever, you’ll be sent home immediately.

(Howth is a lovely place to unwind- plenty of fresh air!)

Irish Adventures: A Cultural Insight

Food and Social Time

Rice is our staple food in Malaysia whereas potatoes are the staple food of Irish. Hence, why you’ll be able to buy 1 kilogram of potatoes at €1.

Malaysians love spending weekends at shopping malls ( an exceptional case for myself :D) and our shopping malls close at 10pm every day. On top of that, one can also easily spot a person with sunglasses even at the malls! Shopping streets or malls in Ireland generally close between 6pm to 7pm and even though the Sun is shining brightly, it is pretty rare to spot someone with sunglasses.

Random Fact: There are only 11 toll roads or motorways in Ireland. In Malaysia, there are 33 highways or expressways with toll points. Even so, our government is planning for more toll roads!

Unique to Ireland

You can hear Irish music almost everywhere you go including souvenir shops and on tour coaches, whereas Malaysian music is only being played at certain places or occasions like museums, temples or during weddings and local concerts.

(The amazing Cliffs of Moher)

Irish Adventures: A Cultural Insight

 

At home, we love our beautiful sandy beaches, Petronas Twin Towers, and Mount Kinabalu. While the Irish love their green scenery, sheep, and Cliffs of Moher. We have 7Eleven and Mydin all over the country while there are Subway and Spar everywhere in Ireland. Pubs are the norms and hang out spots in Ireland while Indian restaurants or what we called as ‘Mamak’ are our normal hang out spots in Malaysia.

In terms of time keeping, both Malaysians and Irish are somewhat very relaxed about it. For example, when someone arranges a meeting to commence at 8am, this normally mean 8:15am or even an hour later for Malaysians.

Ireland: A Truly Amazing Experience

All in all, my time in Ireland was craic! I wouldn’t want to trade the experience with anything else. I have definitely missed hearing people say ‘grand’ at all times, on top of striking a conversation with strangers on the streets. If I were given a chance to return to Ireland for either a holiday or even a job offer, without any doubt I’d say YES.

Anis became a Stinter in January 2017 and really embraced her time in Ireland. Anis has many talents and being awesome is just one of them! You can catch more of her writings via her personal blog. Stint Ireland would like to thank Anis for her blog contribution. We look forward to her coming back to visit us in the near future. 

A Gap Year: Parents Guide

You’re thinking about your child’s future- that’s normal. You basically want what is best for them both personally and career wise- understandable. The idea of a gap year worries you, and deciding whether you are going to give the “OK” is hard, parenting is hard- we get it.

 

As a parent, we know that you’re probably asking the practical questions. “Is it safe?”, “How will it impact my child’s future prospects?”. You’re probably even running the numbers in your head, the cost of flights, spending money, insurance, visa and who knows what else?!

 

Honestly, when your child talks about the prospect of a gap year, we totally understand your apprehension.

 

We are here to help, and we won’t shower you with sales pitches. This blog will simply cover the realities of what your child will face after graduation. Whilst we will provide some helpful answers to those practical questions.

 

A smack of reality….Yep, that’s what happens after graduation.

 

The world today is competitive, everyone is trying to get somewhere fast. More and more young people are securing degrees: competition can be fierce. As a result, many employers are now looking beyond undergrad degrees, focusing more on postgraduate qualifications and life experience. Most young people go from academics and extracurriculars to the hectic life of a full-time job (if they’re lucky!) and the millions of other things that make us official adults (i.e. taxes, bills, rent, debt, cooking meals, washing clothes).

 

Essentially, most young people go straight from a life of schooling to adulthood without any transition or practice. This is the reality for graduates today.

 

Psychologist Jeffrey Arnott suggests that early twenties is a transition stage between adolescence and adulthood called “emerging adulthood”. It’s within this period that many young people feel “in between”, at a time of instability.

 

The big challenge for parents is providing the right support through this stage. Providing the best advice, guidance, and time.

 

Seems a little bit overwhelming right?!

 

Knowing the options and understanding how best to help may seem a little difficult but don’t worry, we can offer some support.

 

In this guide, we will cover what a gap year can provide to your child.

Gap Year Parents Guide

A gap year provides many opportunities for developing new skills and adapting to the real world

It’s not all wanderlust-y backpacking and no alarm setting.

 

Adjusting to a new culture, new country, figure out legalities (i.e. finding work, getting paid, paying rent/bills, visa restrictions etc) and learning to live in a completely new society are definites when it comes to a gap year. These experiences provide skills such as initiative, reliance, problem-solving, cross-cultural communication and learning to adapt to change, to name but a few. These are not just valuable life skills but they completely boost any resume or interview conversation.

 

Living abroad stimulates personal growth

In college, we tend to spend a lot of time around the same type of people, do the same things and even take on the same traits and habits. And that’s ok, it’s all a part of growing up. A gap year provides a period of “figuring things out”. Exposure to new people, situations, and social norms stimulate various degrees of growth and empathy. Whether it’s figuring out life’s true calling, finding a career path or simply maturing- a gap year facilitates it.

 

Gap Year Parents Guide

Absence makes the heart grow fonder (and helps provide perspective!)

It’s perfectly normal to feel like the grass is greener on the other side (and maybe it is!). But there is nothing like a little distance to make you really appreciate what you have at home.

 

The distinct desire toward big city life, rolling green hills, and pure adventure will always push most young people to look beyond their current situation. An experience abroad will trigger maturing, perspective and gratitude. It’s easy to fall into the habit of mom doing our laundry, dad being the on-call taxi driver or even just having easy access to all our favorite foods: traveling will give you a real appreciation for these kinds of things.

 

Right, that all sounds very good but you still have some questions.

 

Is it safe?

Dublin is a relatively safe city and Ireland sits high for safety on a global scale, ranking 12th (see this IEP report from 2016).

 

We understand that traveling alone comes with its risks but taking a gap year through a reputable program is a safe and secure option. For example, with Stint Ireland, we invest in accommodation that is located in safe areas (no hostels!). We are contactable 24/7 in the event your child needs us. We provide everything from an airport pick-up, meet and greet, orientation to ongoing personal support. Whilst all our program participants are provided with insurance before arrival to Dublin. Basically, your child’s safety is our main priority.

 

Maybe you’re wondering about terrorism- well, we have had no terrorist threats here in Ireland in recent years.

 

How could I support my child?

Navigating adolescence alone is tough, coming out of college and facing many big decisions can be even tougher. The best form of support is non-judgemental and unconditional. Your child will respect when you have listened and engaged in this manner.

 

We suggest being a guider- let them come up with their own decisions through guidance. Making sure they have covered all angles: safety, finance, planned traveling routes etc. Have conversations about these kinds of topics, avoid quizzing or questioning. 

 

Throughout their gap year, they will have ups and downs, be their support. Remember this experience is practice for real-life. Encourage them to meet new experiences head on, to make new friends and fully embrace their time abroad.

 

When the time comes to go home, help to prepare them. Believe us, a gap year will change your child. They will have become a little more independent, mature and individual- respect that. Give them the time and space to process their experience. Converse with them, they will appreciate your interest and support.

 

Money- the finances?

A huge defining aspect of an experience abroad. The initial costs can seem expensive: visa, insurance, flight, and going through a reputable company can add to the cost, but with that comes a huge level of support and help. Some gap year programs such as the one Stint Ireland provides cover housing and insurance within the program fee- so there are no hidden costs.

 

Remember, your child can also obtain a job with their visa (working holiday visa), so once they touch down and get settled, it is just a matter of finding a job and going through the legalities i.e. obtaining a social security number and bank account. Again, via a reputable gap year program, your child will have all the support they need to find a job and get set up.

 

Have more questions?

 

Cool, questions are good. Feel free to contact us at team@stintireland.com. We would love to chat.

 

For more information on Stint Ireland’s Gap Program please visit www.stintireland.com

 

A Gap Year: The Pros and Cons

To gap year or not?! One hell of a question, right.

 

To embark on a year of adventure and exploration or get ahead of your peers by entering a career path or go back to school. At some point the latter will happen, it goes without saying, but is taking time out before getting back to business really worth it? (Sidenote: gap year opportunities have expiry dates…just so you know!)

 

You may still be unsure about the idea of a gap year or you may even be at the stage where you’re 100% sure you want to do a gap year. Either way, understanding the pros and cons will help to clarify the realities, pros, and cons (hint: this can come in helpful when you’re discussing your plan with mom and dad too!).

 

Understanding the potential impact of a gap year on your life is highly important, so here goes…

Pro: Adds to your resume

A gap year can provide so many skills that any employer will be impressed with. The ability to work in a diverse environment, step outside your comfort zone, maturity, and ability to communicate cross-culturally to name but a few skills. What about all those great working abroad and travel stories you can tell during your interview too? A lot more interesting that discussing how you used your initiative to clean up a spilled milkshake on aisle four.

Con: You are away from life at home (…for a long time!)

Uhhhh toughie and there’s no doubt about it, being away from family, friends and the familiar ain’t easy. But we suggest asking this question: what will you lose from doing a gap year? Also, consider the gains too: travel, learning, growth, and experience. Facebook, Skype, and Instagram have made it very easy to stay in touch with home, so you are always only a call or message away.

 

Oh and remember you don’t have to literally work and travel for a whole year: it is very common for many to work and travel for six or eight months as opposed to the full year. The working holiday visa to Ireland simply permits you to stay a maximum of 365 days.

 

The Pros & Cons

Pro: Lots of experience

You will collect some amount of experiences and stories- we suggest taking a big diary! These stories/experiences are always great for your blogs, social media postings, they even come in handy when you get back to real life and are talking with a prospective employer.

 

Con: Could be Risky

What is life without risk eh?! But you know what…deciding to take the leap is harder than actually taking the leap. We haven’t met anyone who has regretted taking a gap year: even those who decided to go home before their visa was up. Everyone gets something out of the experience: new skills, overcoming a fear or even learning to navigate through a new country.   

A Gap Year: The Pros and Cons

Pro: New Friends

Especially when you gap year through a program you will meet lots of new people. You get to meet people from all walks of life, develop new lifelong friendships and even gain travel buddies!

Con: Homesickness

Yep, it happens. Homesickness can strike at any time, be it, missing a family member’s birthday, around holidays or just on a lazy Sunday afternoon. A lot of time it gets you wondering if you made the right choice but the nice thing about a gap year is traveling provides a distraction. The best way to combat homesickness: recognize it, allow it to happen and push through!

A Gap Year: The Pros and Cons

Pro: It’s a year to learn about you

Whether you start a gap year knowing the path you want to take or not, you really do learn a lot about yourself. Every experience, good or bad, throughout a gap year provides you with the opportunity to reflect. Many people use a gap year to find their calling or path.

 

Con: It’s an escape from “real life”

Unfortunately, Elon Musk has not yet offered any intergalactic gap year opportunities, so we hate to say that taking a gap year does not involve the exiting of “real life”. In actual fact, life becomes more real. A gap year exposes you to a variety of cultures and societies that you would not have seen otherwise. And believe us, moving to a new country, learning to live in a new place whilst having to adapt is hugely beneficial. The only real escape is from the day to day routine and comfort of home, and yes this can sometimes be difficult. 

A Gap Year: The Pros and Cons

Pro: It’s a break from education

Up until the point of taking a gap year, you will have spent a lot of time studying, taking tests and stressing about your GPA. Loss of motivation and focus can hit hard whilst it’s easy to start taking education for granted. Taking a gap year can re-energise you, let you have some time off, help to regain that focus whilst also providing an opportunity to figure out your true path.

Con: You’re no longer a student

Nooooo, there goes access to the food hall and not having to roll out of bed until after midday. Honestly, it does have its benefits. A gap year is more of a transition period, it eases you into real adult life whilst affording you the opportunity to adventure before you enter that new job or grad school.

 

So, there you have it, some pros and cons to a gap year. We hope this can help in making your decision a little bit easier, or help prepare you to chat with your parents. If you have any potential worries or questions, we would be glad to discuss them with you. Just drop us an email at team@stintireland.com. Thanks for reading out blog! 

A Gap Year: Is It Really Worthwhile?

Dear Potential Gap Year Stinter,

Today I thought of you. I thought of you and the choice that lies before you: do I take a leap of faith and partake in a gap year in Dublin? This is no small decision. It must be weighed on personal, spiritual, financial, practical and social levels.

 

“But what I want you to know — what is imperative that you understand — is that taking this step is the single most loving gesture you could make towards your own personal growth”

 

I thought of you as I listened on my walk to my Wednesday afternoon podcast, Harry Potter and the Sacred Text. The hosts were discussing what it means to protect and love something or someone. And Casper – I say his name as if we are close friends – Casper said, “To protect something, you need to love it. And to love it, you need to know it.” And I was almost halted in my tracks as I realized that before my time in Dublin I didn’t know myself, not really. If I had known before I moved the girl I was, am, and will be, I had lost sight of her for a time.

Back home, I felt stuck. I had graduated from college with two degrees and honors, and yet I was waiting tables and moonlighting as a science fiction editor. I was still piecing myself together after my greatest heartbreak to date and the subsequent return of my clinical, and nearly fatal, depression. I was living at home and felt my youth was being wasted on my claustrophobia-inducing small town. Looking back on it I know that this isn’t an uncommon sentiment for someone my age. There’s a reason Taylor Swift sings, “We’re happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time.” I felt trapped and I wanted out.

 

A Gap Year: Is It Really Worthwhile

A Gap Year: Is It Worthwhile

 

 

“That’s who I was when I applied to the program. That’s not who I am anymore”

 

 

 

 

Travel, Live, Grow.

I’m nearly to the six month anniversary of my arrival in Ireland. I’ve traveled all around the country and then some. I’ve kissed the Blarney Stone and I’ve hiked through the Wicklow mountains. I’ve toured the Ring of Kerry and I’ve traveled by rickety plane over to the Aran Islands. I’ve danced the night away at Flannery’s and seen a concert at Whelan’s. I’ve traveled north, stood on the Giant’s Causeway, walked the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, and even met Kit Harrington. I’ve jetted over to Edinburgh and climbed Arthur’s Seat, and I’ve even traveled to London to see my future school.

 

A Gap Year: Is It Worthwhile 3

But it’s not the physical journeys that make up my Stint experience. And, although I love them dearly, it isn’t my Stint family either. It’s my Sundays.

This Is Why It’s Worth It…

On Sundays, I wake up at 10:30 a.m. and walk the quarter mile to the gym. I get on the bike and I ride with a room full of strangers through what is always a humbling workout. Then I go to church in all my sweaty, panting glory. On my way home, I stop by Brother Hubbard South and pick up a scone, jam, and butter. And then I feast at the kitchen table with my housemates recounting our last two nights. I boil myself a cup of tea and I breathe.

 

For what feels like the first time in years, I am content.

 

Sometime during the day I go to Lidl, just twenty minutes away, and pick up my food for the week. I listen to James Bay serenade me through my headphones on the walk by the canal filled with swans. I meander through the grocery aisles and then stuff my reusable grocery bags (because that’s all they have in Ireland) with sweet potatoes, chicken breasts, and barbecue sauce.

Back at the house again, I start to work a new freelance gig, happy to have some contact with the industry that I love. Around 5:00 p.m., I FaceTime my parents. I tell them I love them, that I’m grateful for their support, and that I’m happy. I mean all three.

 

A Gap Year: Is It Worthwhile 4

 

Sundays are my favorite days because they are the days when I feel at home. And that is no small feat. I’m very aware of the sacrifices I have made, the trials I have endured, and the active choice I continually make to keep living.

 

I have reinvented myself from the nothingness that I previously felt I was, and I have formed myself into a young woman I am proud of.

 

I choose this life every day. I have a life I know, a life I love, and, as Casper predicted, a life I want to protect. And I make every effort to engage in those little daily acts of self-love.

And When It’s All Over

I know one day I will have to get on a plane and return to Annapolis, Maryland, U.S.A. I know one day I won’t be walking down the street with a scone in my pocket and my face towards the sun – which, by the way, is visible a lot more than the Irish propagandists want you to believe. I know one day I won’t wake up in this “dirty old town,” that one day I won’t be able to stop and marvel at the fact that I’m actually living in Dublin, that I’m actually doing it. One day it will be done. But I have gained more from six months as a part of Stint than I gained in four years of university and eighteen years before that. I’m never going to be able to replace the journey I have had during my time here.

It is because of my Sundays that I urge you to take a leap of faith. Make that gesture of self-love and give yourself a chance to grow into the person you truly are. I promise you, stranger, that gifting yourself this confidence is priceless.

With all my love and best wishes,

Rose

Rose Friel is a self-proclaimed ENFJ with a love of whiskey, books, and being an utter cliche. She graduated from Villanova University with a double major in English and Communications and will be matriculating to London College of Communication in September 2017 to pursue her masters in publishing. Check out her occasionally published works on Thought Catalog (http://thoughtcatalog.com/rose-friel/) or her flora legia style blog (http://www.theexpatmusings.com/). our journey! We are super proud of you Rose. 

My Journey to Interning in Ireland

by Tia Mitsis

For many young students a semester overseas, a gap year or internship sounds exciting. It sounded exciting to me too as a young university student. At the time I didn’t have the financial ability to do it. I yearned to have an exciting international adventure, I looked through the various semester abroad brochures at my university but it was a dream I knew I could not realize at that point in my life. Fast-forward a few years and here I am; an intern in the vibrant capital of Ireland, arguably one of the literary capitals of the world.

 

Decisions, decisions, decisions!

You don’t easily make the decision I came to. It is a risk to essentially walk away from a job and life you know to go overseas and work in an entirely different field. The decision required much soul searching and a keen sense of adventure. Everyone told me I was brave. I didn’t see it that way then. I saw it as a risk. A risk compared to the more predictable goings-on of daily reality. It is the fear of the unknown compared to the known. It was a risk I was willing to take. Now I embrace the ‘brave’ label proudly. It is brave to choose to live overseas for a period, complete an internship and experience a different life and culture.
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